Whatever your discipline and whatever the level you compete at, there will eventually come a time when every equestrian must hang up their that coveted ‘young rider’ status forever and permenantly classify themselves as an adult.
While you might have good genes which mean you only look to be in your mid-teens, your birth certificate says different, so here are six things you might experience when you’re too old to be classified as ‘young’…
1. Strangly enough, you will feel young
You’ve spent the past couple of seasons as the oldest, the wisest and (probably) the tallest in the field. But pulling your stirrups up and hunching over a little to lose a couple of years are things of the past. Now, you’ve gone back to being the youngest and your older peers, who are adulting all over the place, make you feel under-classed. While at 25 you’re classified as a functioning adult in society, the equestrian competition scene can make you feel both young and old at the same time depending on who you’re stood next to in the collecting ring. It will take some time to get used to.
2. Your competition days will run differently
Your former junior ranking could permit you to contend several classes throughout the day but now that you’re confined to the senior ranks and beyond you get fewer cracks at the whip on show day. There’s no longer the opportunity to use the junior class as a warm up for the big qualifier later in the day, or have a spin in the under-25s before you hit the sizable open track a few hours later.
3. No one has sympathy if you mess up
You stopped being able to use the cute card when you graduated from first ridden classes aged 12, but the excuse that ‘you’re just a kid’ is no longer an acceptable get out clause in any case. As you slowly become integrated in the adult rider scene you will find trainers, judges and spectators alike are less forgiving after a slip-up, a mistake or an avoidable error.
4. Criticism might also be a little more frank
Similarily, those in the judging or training seat won’t hold back so much when it comes to giving out constructive criticism.
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5. You might suddenly feel under-horsed
Admittedly, during the past couple of years, you and your horse have maintained the form of a boss wiping the floor with these youngsters. But in the space of what feels like a millisecond (or literally a day for you riders who were waiting until the 1 January to be out of a certain class), you suddenly see your horse in a different light. He might look a bit small and insignificant, and lack that prowess now faced with different rivals. You’re not quite sure if it’s because the tests have become more difficult, or the fences are higher, or if everyone in the show ring suddenly looks like they know what they’re doing. Time to up your game a bit.
6. Your senior peers might be intimidated
There can be no one more daunting that a fresh faced, enthusiastic and hugely talented young rider coming onto the scene. So while seniors may have years on their side, you can still give all you’ve got and cement your place as the one to beat.
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